On June 5, 2010, Mark Wedeven arrived at his usual climbing spot on Washington’s Mount Rainier. He had climbed the mountain since a boy scout expedition at age 13 and had a deep passion for the highest mountain in the state. Rangers had declared the mountain unsafe that day, but 29-year-old Wedeven was not among the ones warned. As The Bellingham Herald reports, he got to 12,000 feet when he was swept away by an avalanche. Wedeven's body has yet to be recovered.
Carol Wedeven is Mark’s mother. As she told reporters at the time, “I didn’t have too much hope, and neither does David (his father)." As reported, Wedeven “typically would bicycle to Rainier or one of his other favorite spots, do his climbs, then bike home in tired satisfaction to Olympia, where he lived with his son Obi, 5.” Ten other climbers were also caught in the avalanche that descended the mountain on June 5, though Wedeven was the only fatality. Wedeven’s family plans to hold a funeral service outdoors, at home.
Wedeven’s death was not the first time he had faced mortality. In 2002, he was taken hostage by armed guerillas when backpacking in Colombia. Born in Colombia, he had hoped to get in touch with his roots. After being held for days, he was taken to a graveyard at the edge of a village where he believed he was going to be executed. Instead, he was questioned and freed.
Wedeven’s tragic end on Mount Rainier is one of five fatalities on the mountain this year. On July 4, 57-year-old Eric Lewis of Duvall died when he unclipped from a line during a summit. Recently, 52-year-old Lee Adams of Seattle was killed when he was dragged into a crevasse while descending the mountain.
Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is a popular destination for climbers. It is the highest peak in the Cascade Mountain range with an elevation of 14,411 feet.
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